Prayer is both doing and not doing, effort and ease, talking and listening. The same God who says “When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13) also says “Be still and know that I am God!” (Ps. 46:10a). So this is prayer: searching for God and being still to allow God to find us.
Many of us make prayer a monologue when it’s supposed to be a dialogue. We need to balance active prayer (talking) with passive prayer (listening). Listening is best done in a quiet place. We hear God speak in silence, not with our physical ears but with the ears of our heart. The problem for most of us is not that we spend too much time seeking God and too little time being still. The real problem is that we spend too much time seeking things other than God.
Aidan Clarke tells a story about a boy who lost his dog in New York City. As he walked up and down the streets systematically and slowly, a friend complained that he wasn’t even looking for his dog. He answered, “I’m not looking for him. I’m letting him find me. Sooner or later he will discover the trail I am putting down and follow it until he comes to me.” Prayer is putting down our trail so that God can find us.